The history of Delray is colorful. Especially with the realization that our home wasn’t always called Delray Beach. Back in the days sans A/C, automobiles and running water some hardy folk were calling this area home sweet home.
- Orange Grove Haulover. Prior to 1845, when Florida became a state, Africans, Seminole Native Americans and Black Seminoles were already living in South Florida. In the 1850’s, the Delray Beach area was called Orange Grove Haulover. It was named for the orange groves of the area. A haulover was an area where boaters must carry their boat over land to another area of water.
- Zion. In 1868, Wisconsin natives William and Sara Gleason, began purchasing thousands of acres in Florida including in what is now our home. Eight years later, the Orange Grove House of Refuge #3 was constructed by the U.S. Lifesaving Service, serving as a haven for the shipwrecked. In the 1880’s, African-American farmers from the Panhandle of Florida bought land near Orange Grove House of Refuge and Annie Andrews, the second and last keeper of House of Refugee #3, established a post office address named Zion, Florida for our area
- Linton. Henry Flagler purchased the Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Halifax River Railway in 1885 in hope of building a railroad to connect the entire east coast of Florida. His railroad allowed easier travel south for northerners. Michigan natives William Linton and David Swinton led a group of settlers here in 1894 at the same time that North Florida Africans and Bahamans were relocating to our town. In 1896 the original plat for the Town of Linton was officially recorded.
- Delray. Around 1900 the settlers renamed our town Delray, meaning “of the King,” after a suburb of Detroit, Michigan. The population in 1900 was 150. In 1904 Yamato was established south of Delray as a Japanese agricultural colony. The Town of Delray was incorporated in 1911. A year earlier the census lists 904 residents of Delray.
- Delray Beach. In 1923, the area east of the Florida East Coast Canal (now called the Intercoastal Waterway) was incorporated as the Town of Delray Beach. The population in our town was 1,501 in 1920.
- City of Delray Beach. Delray and Delray Beach merged into the City of Delray Beach in 1927. Three years later the population had jumped to 2,333 and by 1940 we had 3,737 residents. The population of Delray Beach based on the centennial census record continued to grow through the decades: 1950-6,312; 1960-12,230; 1970-19,915; 1980-34,325; 1990-47,750.
- All American City. Our home was selected as the All American City in 1993 and in 2001. The latest census (2000) lists our population as 60,020. It’s a pleasure and a privilege to call Delray home. Let’s treat our community and our neighbors with the respect this historic town deserves.
Sources: Early History of Delray Beach, This early history was compiled by the Zion Study Circle in collaboration with the Delray Beach Historical Society, the Spady Museum and in consultation with historian, Clemmer Mayhew, http://www.delraybeach.com/DelrayChamber/History.asp.